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Achieve and maintain compliance by organizing your software licenses and other documentation

After you've finished your software deployment inventory, you can begin the next step of finding, recording, and organizing the licensing and other documentation for each software title and version. Before you begin this step, you should be aware of exactly what type of documentation you need as evidence of licensing for each type of software your company owns.

A good SAM program can help your organization achieve good governance and meet government requirements,. such as Sarbanes-Oxley and others.

Step-by Step Training: Matching Software with Licenses

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Step 2:  Now that you know which software titles are installed on your computers, learn about the best ways to analyze your findings and get organized.

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Finding License Documentation

When you’ve determined what types of documentation you are looking for, you will need to physically track it down. A good place to begin is with the person or department who is responsible for software acquisition in your company. If you have a centralized purchasing department, begin your search there. If each department is responsible for their own software acquisition, contact the individual department managers. Your IT department may also have additional documentation, such as software manuals and original product CDs.

If your company acquires software licenses through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs, such as Open License, Select License, or Enterprise Agreement, you can access your license information online and import it into your license report.

To access your company's volume license information, visit the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC). Use the VLSC to download licensed products, access product keys, and manage your Microsoft Volume Licensing agreements and license acquisition activity. You will need a Windows Live ID, along with your License Authorization and License numbers. Whoever regularly purchases licenses through your particular program should have this information.

Visit the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center

If you are still having difficulty locating your license information, you can also try contacting your software resellers for assistance.

Analyzing Your Findings

After you have collected all of your company’s license documentation, record the information in a detailed report. Compare this report to the software inventory report that you prepared in the previous step. This should make it easy to determine the areas in which your company is over-licensed and/or under-licensed.

The following diagram shows an example of over- and under-licensing.

Product Name



License Type


Licensed Quantity

License Excess or Shortfall










Professional Plus



















FPP = Full packaged product
OEM = Original equipment manufacturer
VL = Volume Licensing
License rights vary depending on the type of license purchased.

*This table represents the basic information most companies will need to track as a starting point. Organizations with additional complexities, such as non-perpetual licensing, may need to add additional fields to be complete.  


If you find that your company has more licenses than software, you may be buying too much, or it might be an opportunity to deploy available software to help improve productivity. The benefit of this situation is that you may be able to take those licenses and use them elsewhere on different computers, or in different departments. You can install your software on additional computers until the number of licenses matches the number of installations.*

*Note that certain license agreements may limit the transfer or redeployment of software. Check your agreement(s) before transferring software.


If you find you have fewer licenses than you have software applications, your company is under-licensed. You can remedy this situation by acquiring additional licenses through an authorized Microsoft software reseller.

Find an authorized Microsoft software reseller

Exploring Your Licensing Options

You should consider investigating different types of licensing options available to you. For smaller companies, programs such as Microsoft Open Value or Microsoft Open Value Subscription may work best. Larger organizations might want to look into Microsoft Select Plus and the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement. Non-profits and academic institutions are encouraged to take advantage of customized programs also available through Volume Licensing. Use the online Microsoft License Advisor to easily find and choose the Microsoft Volume Licensing program that can best help your organization simplify license management, optimize your IT infrastructure, and get the most value for your IT investment.

Go to the Microsoft License Advisor now

What's Next

Next step: Create policies and procedures

Now that you’ve completed your software and license inventory, you’re ready to move forward with the next steps in your SAM plan. Now is the time to start developing policies and procedures for safely storing your license documentation, as well as planning and tracking your software, license, and media library. You may want to decide whether the project is best completed in-house or outsourced. In either case, you will have laid the groundwork for getting your SAM plan up and running.